The life you save may be your own – high blood pressure & a stroke

Hello, hello!

So… it’s been an interesting day.

There was a blood drive at work (sort of – another government building) and I always try to donate when I can so I made an appointment.

I headed over a few minutes early – there’s always paperwork, etc to take care of – and signed in and waited my turn.


During the check-in process, the American Red Cross rep (nurse?) takes your temperature, checks your hemoglobin (very painful finger prick!), and takes your blood pressure, in addition to asking a bazillion questions.

1st interesting thing – I was running a fever.

Hmm….I had a little stuffy nose but I felt fine.

2nd interesting thing – my blood pressure was a little high.

Caveat – my blood pressure generally goes up a little when I’m running a fever. Doesn’t help that both my folks have high blood pressure and mine goes up a little every now and then. Thanks so much for the gift, mom and dad.

Except, it wasn’t just a little high. It was kind of a lot high. He took it twice. Then, he took a break, did a couple of other things, and came back and took it again.

Sky high.


I really think he thought I was going to drop dead right there on the spot.

Except, I felt fine. And besides, I certainly didn’t plan on dropping dead in an old government building and definitely not on a cold Thursday. I mean really, my standards are a little higher. (#sarcasm)

But, all jokes aside, I took the whole thing seriously – and left the building with all the blood I came in with. Oh, except for the amount that he took to check my hemoglobin. Again, OW.

I called my doctor and was unable to get in to see her until Monday.

Um, yeah, that really wasn’t going to work.

They recommended I go to Urgent Care, and my supervisor agreed, so I went.


Fever? Not as high but a teeny bit over normal.

Blood pressure? Yeah. That cow jumped WAY over the moon.

AND, to top it off, I apparently have fluid behind my ears and really irritated nasal passages and some tenderness below my eyes.

Can you say – sinus infection?



Sinus infections normally knock me on my butt for a week (like I’m a zombie on the couch!) so I’m really glad I caught it early.

I never would have known if I hadn’t gone to give blood.

So the moral of the story is – give blood whenever you can. The life you save may actually be your own!

Here’s some great information about high blood pressure from the American Heart Association:

high blood pressure or hypertension

If it runs in your family, you may not be able to escape it. Even if you run marathons. And eat well. And all the other things you’re supposed to do. Stupid genetics. ;p

But, it’s very important to find out if you have it. Very. It’s nickname is “the silent killer.” That’s way uncool.

One of the main things the guy at the American Red Cross was worried about was whether or not I was having a stroke.

I’m not kidding.

Of course, I looked at him like he was crazy and said, “I feel FINE!.”  His reply? “They all do!”

According to the AHA, the stoke is America’s number 4 killer.

“A stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). When that happens, part of the brain is no longer getting the blood and oxygen it needs, so it starts to die. Your brain controls your movement and thoughts, so a stroke doesn’t only hurt your brain. It also hurts the brain’s ability to think and control body functions. Strokes can affect language, memory and vision as well as cause paralysis and other health issues.”

Here are the warning signs of a stroke:

1. face drooping, numbing, abnormal crooked smile

2. arm weakness

3. slurred speech or difficulty

4. sudden dizziness

5. blurred vision

6. sudden severe headache

One of the prescriptions I received today was high blood pressure medication. I’ll follow up with my doctor on Monday and determine the best avenue for my treatment.

Because, it’s not my time yet. There’s too much life still to live, miles to run, and weight to lift. 🙂

It’s not your time yet either. When was the last time you discussed high blood pressure and other serious health issues with your doctor? Be proactive – ask questions and have discussions. If you have high blood pressure or are prehypertensive, buy a home blood pressure gauge and periodically check it and keep records! (*note to self – do what you’re suggesting, Jen!)

Knowledge is power and the life you save may be your own. 🙂

– jennifer